So often we talk about the body as though it’s a machine, a highly complicated machine, but still a machine. We compare our bodies to intricate man-made things with pumps and pistons, filters and gears, hinges and joints.
And even though we liken our bodies to machines or engines, we sometimes feel as though our bodies have their own agenda, feeling separate from the rest of us.
When we decide we want to go for a run, we grumble at our bodies if the legs feel too tired. We are annoyed when we get a cold which spoils a holiday, or a stiff shoulder stops us from playing sport. My body’s let me down, we might say.
And sometimes it shouts more loudly, and we become ill, and we rail against the illness for how it makes us feel, and what it means we can no longer do.
And yet, this is what we expect of our bodies. We refuel, do some maintenance, some quick fixes, often according to what someone else, an expert maybe, has told us.
And then we might exercise, eat healthily, take sufficient rest, and look after it just as we would look after a machine or an engine. And sometimes we don’t even do that, and expect it to keep going, and going, until it doesn’t go any more.
That would be asking a lot of even a very good friend.
But maybe there is another way – a way of listening closely to the body.
And that doesn’t only mean eating the right foods, taking enough exercise, having regular dental checks.
The body protests. It defies us. At other times the body simply seems to be in trouble. It has needs, even urgent needs, though it may be having trouble articulating them. Sometimes a leap occurs when we recognise this. “Oh. The body needs something …”
I’ve noticed that those who begin to speak of the body in this way … often become more in tune with the body rather than less.
To find language for this separation is simply, I suspect, to be honest about the divide, and then, in turn, make the effort to call out across it.
It’s as if [a person] stands at the edge of a chasm. They call across. Or, sometimes, they beckon toward the body. Or, perhaps, they’re beckoning toward the part of the mind more closely associated with the body. An unconscious part? A subconscious part? In any case, they lean forward a little. They whisper, ‘What is it? What do you need?’
It’s as if offering compassion towards the body were a beginning. And then, not infrequently, the body, or some part of the mind associated with the body, finds language to respond – and the person is able to hear it.
Diane is talking about the body-mind intelligence that Eugene Gendlin called Focusing, and is practised by many people around the world. You can read about some of the benefits of Focusing here and here.
Diane Morrow goes on to say:
It’s like meeting someone who speaks a different language, and then, rather than just continuing to speak one’s own language, ever louder and more insistently, it’s being willing at some point to make the effort to learn the other’s language. It’s being willing, for some measure of time, to turn away from the cacophony of the external world and give the body and the inner world one’s undivided attention.
I can’t tell you if there’s a good time to learn Focusing, other than any time is good. And I wished I’d learned it sooner.
When we are under stress or unwell, or when we are feeling great and the world is a wonderful place and it feels as though nothing can go wrong – at these times we might find it difficult to get into contact with what the body has to say about what is going on. So we might choose to learn Focusing then, and that’s great. And it also a good time to learn when we are feeling just okay. Because we can use Focusing at any time.
I have a Focusing partner and we meet once a week on Skype. Sometimes there are big issues that want to be addressed; sometimes surprises emerge, that might have been below our conscious radar; sometimes it’s about something that might seem quite trivial, and we learn more about why it has been niggling us; and sometimes we just spend time enjoying the feeling of being connected with our own selves in this way.
It is always nourishing, always worth doing, and I always feel enriched for having spent an hour or so in this way.
Please let me know below if you are a Focuser, and what it means for you.
And if you are not, and would like to learn, contact me here, and we can arrange a session or a course – face-to-face or on Skype or Facetime.”